Editor's note: This article was originally published February, 2012.

Mobile technology is growing like never before. In 2012, continued growth in technology is forecast as people worldwide continue to adopt emerging technologies. Do you currently own a mobile device such as a smartphone, tablet, or e-reader? Or do you plan to buy a mobile device in the coming year for use in your homeschool and household? If so, you are part of the growing community of digital natives who experts estimate will download a possible 50 billion apps in 2012.

Many beneficial apps are available for educational use. Students can learn, play, and communicate with digital media as never before. As most homeschooling families can testify, learning is truly fun, and educational apps provide a high-interest mechanism to stimulate learning. Thousands of educational apps are available in the Apple App Store and Android Market, and each month we will highlight a few of our top picks.

Here is a listing of February app picks of the month.'

Fine Arts

Art Set—iPad ($0.99) 

Age range: Elementary to adult

Art Set will turn your iPad into a virtual art studio. Some of the unique features include these: five blending tools, assorted paper textures, 3D textured oil paint, metallic colors, fluorescent colors, and virtual pressure sensitivity. You can use this app with all ages, and it is more sophisticated than typical art apps designed for kids. You also can import your own photographs and images and export your creations to your photo album.

My First Classical Music App—iPad ($4.99)

Age range: Elementary

This classical music app, based on the book My First Classical Music Book (Naxos, 2009), is an engaging introduction to composers and instruments of the orchestra. Three sections include “People” (Composers), “Instruments” (Orchestra), and “When? Where?” which highlights the venues of classical music.  Forty pieces of music and included and children will love the lively illustrations of interactive animals. 

History and Geography

Stack the States—iPhone/iPad/Android ($0.99 full app; free lite version available)

Age range: Elementary to adult

This app is a very fun way to learn all about the fifty states! It is a perfect app for learning the states and capitals at the elementary level, but all ages will enjoy this dynamic learning app, which features engaging activities covering fifty states, capitals, geography, state shapes, nicknames, and fun facts. You will want to download the full version to experience all of the features.

Language Arts

Kindle—iPhone/iPad/Android (free)

Age range: Elementary to adult

The Kindle app is a must-have resource for every homeschool family. Thousands of free E-Books, including most classic literature titles, are available for free download. You can install the Kindle app on your PC, Mac, and mobile devices, and the Whispersync technology will synchronize all of your E-Books and E-Publications so that you can pick up your reading where you left off—no matter which device you are using. For example, I download E-Books with the Kindle app and they automatically are synchronized on my PC, iPhone, and iPad so that I can keep up with my reading wherever I am throughout the day. This is a perfect resource for busy homeschooling families! Some of our favorite E-Books that we have downloaded for free include classical literature and G. A. Henty titles.

Rory’s Story Cubes—iPhone/Android ($1.99)

Age range: Elementary to adult

This popular game is now available as an app. It is a perfect game to play as a family and with friends. You can also use this to develop creative writing or storytelling skills in your homeschool. The game is a simple premise of building a story using nine cubes with fifty-four pictorial images, and the combinations are almost unlimited. You simply shake your phone and the cubes will roll; then you spontaneously create a story from the combination rolled.

Math

Khan Academy—iPhone /iPad/Android (free)

Age range: Upper Elementary to adult

This is an unofficial app for the Khan Academy, which is a nonprofit company that provides 2,600 educational videos for self-paced learning. Topics covered include Basic Math to Advanced Math and Science, with videos organized by topic. Our family has enjoyed using the free videos to supplement our standard Algebra curriculum.

WolframAlpha—iPhone/iPad/Android ($2.99)

Age range: Elementary to adult

This app is an intelligent computational search engine that provides a broad range of information and data. It is useful for all academic subjects. This app is our go-to resource for research, which we use every week in our homeschooling. If you are unfamiliar with the Wolfram Alpha search engine, you can check it out in your web browser at www.wolframalpha.com. The app provides a handy reference tool for busy homeschooling families who are on the go.

Science 

Star Walk—iPhone/iPad/Android ($2.99)

Age range: Elementary to adult

Star Walk is a gorgeous app that provides real-time exploration of the sky and space. This educational app is a must-have for homeschooling families. It includes details about the planets and constellations in our solar system, a database of thousands of stars, and information about deep space objects. The images are visually stunning and engaging. This is one of our family favorites!

Special Needs 

See. Touch. Learn.—iPhone/iPad (free)

Age range: Elementary to adult

This app is a picture card learning system for autistic and other exceptional learners. The basic app includes sixty exercises, and you can add picture cards for an additional fee. This app provides the benefits of picture cards at a fraction of the cost for the physical cards. It provides a handy portable system for busy families.

I hope you enjoy checking out some of the app recommendations this month! In future issues of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, we will provide information and reviews of top-rated apps for education. 

Copyright 2012, used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in the February 2012 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the trade magazine for homeschool families. Read the magazine free at www.TOSMagazine.com  or read it on the go and download the free apps at www.TOSApps.com to read the magazine on your mobile devices.

Sharra Badgley, along with her husband and two daughters, resides in central Indiana. Sharra writes about their family’s homeschooling journey, product reviews, and information on using apps in home education at The Homeschool Marm and on her blog.

Publication date: November 28, 2012